City Council Meeting Minutes
July 17, 2007
City Council convened in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17, 2007, in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Toni Smith, Wm. Lee Smallwood, Vickie Washington, Joseph R. Musso, Vice President, and Cameron Texter, President, with President Texter presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner Also present was Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt. Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, John Senft, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator, were absent.
Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.
A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Smith, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of June 5, 2007 and June 11, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays - 0.
Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development – Update on Downtown Collaborative, new resources on revyork.com website, and RDA’s draft action plan for 2007-2008 - CANCELLED.
Marlese Dick, Axel Plumbing, 335 N. George St., York, PA, spoke about stadium parking and the affect Ordinance No. 20 of Session 2007 (passed by Council on June 5th) would have on her business. Ordinance 20 prohibits parking in specified places during events at the Sovereign Bank Stadium (baseball stadium – a.k.a. York Outdoor Recreation Complex - YORC). Ms. Dick said passage of Ordinance No. 20 would prove to be a hardship to her business because the Ordinance authorizes parking passes for residents of specified streets only and that the Ordinance does not make accommodations for businesses. Ms. Dick stated that she spoke with Mayor Brenner and Public Works Director Jim Gross but neither was able to give her a concrete answer on what should or could be done.
President Texter said Council was able to establish parking accommodations for residents visiting Washington Park and parishioners of West Minster Church, which were also affected by Ordinance No. 20 so he did not see why there would be a problem providing those same accommodations to businesses. President Texter urged the Administration to work with local businesses in the restricted parking areas because the last thing we want to do is run businesses out of the city because of parking hardships. He said Council does have the authority to amend the Ordinance.
Police Commissioner Mark Whitman apologized to Ms. Dick, and other businesses in the stadium area, as the omission of business parking permits was an oversight.
Earl Carter, 561 S. Queen St., York, PA, asked if an ordinance existed establishing times at which residents can place trash on the curb. He asked if there is such a law, why isn't it being enforced. Mr. Carter explained that some residents are placing garbage out, with no lids, on non-collection days thereby allowing trash sprawl and a creating a feast for rodents. Mr. Carter also spoke about youngsters roaming the streets and getting into trouble. He said the city needs to provide recreational activities for these kids.
President Texter responded that Article 951 “Municipal Solid Waste”, specifically Article 951.05 “Standards for Storage” of the Codified Ordinances outlines property owners responsibility with regard to, amongst other things, placement of trash receptacles, times at which trash is to placed outside for collection, and trash receptacle standards. President Texter asked the City Clerk to relay Mr. Carter’s concern to the Bureau of Permits, Planning and Zoning for investigation by a Property Maintenance Inspector.
President Texter then explained that the city does have a Minor Curfew ordinance (Article 737) establishing that kids shall not be on the streets between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or is engaged in lawful employment during curfew hours. He said police officers are actively enforcing this ordinance though it’s hard for them to cover every section of the city at all times.
Police Commissioner Mark Whitman outlined several youth initiatives being undertaken which he encouraged parents and mentors to become a part of. He then discussed the curfew sweep, how it was conducted, and the number of youths found in violation of the curfew ordinance. Commissioner Whitman stated that unfortunately, when looking at the entire picture, he believes this issue is more complex than just providing recreational activities.
Councilwoman Washington spoke about several programs offered by the York City Bureau of Parks and Recreation. She said not only does the city provide some youth programs, there are other organizations that do the same. Additionally, she said the city has renovated several parks, a baseball stadium was just built, and a community pool located in the city across from Farquhar Park is open for public use 7-days a week.
Councilman Smallwood said it is unfortunate that almost every budget year youth programs are put on the chopping block. He stated that he understands Mr. Carter’s concerns and though this is a work in progress, he asked Mr. Carter to rest assure that the city is doing it’s best to address these concerns.
Tony Brown, 231 Park Place, York, PA, stated that he thought York was a beautiful place every since he moved here 2 years ago. However, Mr. Brown feels some officials have tried to make his life miserable by trying to run him out of town. Mr. Brown said he sweeps his sidewalks, and picks up trash along the curb but for whatever reason there seems to be some sort of focus on destroying him and his family. He said kids are wreaking havoc on the city, yet certain public officials are targeting him and his wife. Mr. Brown said his wife has called the police on several occasions to report wrong doings but has been threatened by the police that if she calls again, there will be hell to pay. Mr. Brown said he is trying the best he can to raise his kids and that we need police protection, not police harassment.
Susan Bassinger, 231 Park Place, York, PA, added to Mr. Brown’s comments by saying the kids are so rowdy and destructive to the point you can’t even drive down the street without feeling or being threatened. She said she has photos and video of some incidents. Ms. Brown feels youth programs need to be more actively advertised because these kids need something to do because they have no respect.
Ed Berry, 247 E. Maple St., York, PA, spoke about the 4th of July incident that took place on the 500 block of S. Queen St. where Councilpersons Texter and Smith were attacked. Mr. Berry applauded Councilman Texter and Councilwoman Smith for coming to the aid of a constituent who called them to report mayhem and havoc on the street caused by a group of about 30 individuals who were firing off cherry bombs and firecrackers to the point where smoke engulfed the entire street. The constituent said he called the police to no avail so he called his local legislators for help. Mr. Berry feels that Councilpersons Texter and Smith were doing their jobs. He asked if Councilpersons can’t walk the street safely, who can? Mr. Berry asked why the person who smashed a bottle upside Councilwoman Smith’s head wasn’t in jail. He said he is dismayed about the lack of police protection offered to our citizens.
Jameel Saahir, 231 Harding Court, York, PA, invited Council, the Administration, and residents to join him in celebrating the “peace keepers” of the City of York. He said a celebration will be held in September honoring those who promote harmony and oneness in our community. Mr. Saahir said he would be inviting Governor Rendell and would like to present him with a commemorative t-shirt.
Tim Page, 680 E. Princess St., York, PA, said all of Council, the solicitor, and employees of the public health department need to be removed from office. Mr. Page stated that many of these employees are not residents of the city. He said he has lived in the city for over 20 years and pays his taxes and is tired of hearing partial truths from these non-resident employees. Mr. Page stated that the city stays in lawsuits because of arbitrary and targeted laws. Mr. Page also frowned upon the fact that many tax dollars are concentrated on rehabilitating the downtown while the rest of York is being ignored. As a homeowner and taxpaying citizen of this city, Mr. Page said, I want to see my tax dollars at work.
Edward Davidson, 500 block of S. Queen St., York, PA, spoke about the 4th of July incident on the 500 block of S. Queen St. (mentioned earlier). He said he called the police about the fireworks and melee but was told by an officer not to call again because they were “dealing with it”. He said after receiving no satisfaction, he called Councilwoman Smith because he has known her for several years. Mr. Davidson explained that he moved here from Florida to take care of is elderly mother. He said residents use to help her but are now afraid because of the gangs of kids running amuck on the street. When Councilpersons Smith and Texter came to see the 4th of July mayhem, he said they were able to witness for themselves the thick smoke and madness. Mr. Davidson said he gives high praise to Councilpersons Smith and Texter for coming out to investigate his complaint.
Economic Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: Vice President Musso reported that the Economic Development Committee met this evening at 6:00 p.m. to discuss Bill No. 25, (click on Bill No. 25 to view) a Bill establishing Article 1729 "Vacant Property Registration" of the Codified Ordinances to establish guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the City of York and the payment of related fees. Vice President Musso asked that Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt provide Council with a written opinion on the legality of the ordinance and implications, if any. He said Council was told that a similar piece of legislation was enacted in another municipality and they would like to review that ordinance. President Texter asked that Solicitor Hoyt provide said opinion by the August 8th Council meeting. There being no further discussion, Bill No. 25 will remain in committee until further notice.
Final Passage of Bill No. 22, Ordinance No. 22, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Department of Public Works for the Boat Basin Improvement Project to reflect $75,000 provided by the Board of Foundry Plaza, Inc. to cover costs that exceeded budgeted amounts, which was introduced by Washington at the June 5th meeting of Council and read in brief, came up for final passage. On motion of Washington, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 22, Ordinance No. 22 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Final Passage of Bill No. 23, Ordinance No. 23, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for fiscal year 2007 for the CDBG and HOME Programs to reflect changes resulting from actual funding levels and to reflect a change to the 2007 Action Plan, which was introduced by Musso at the June 5th meeting of Council, and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 23 came up for discussion. Councilwoman Washington said this is an audit finding every year mainly due to the lack of submitting time cards and using general fund dollars. She said this is very upsetting. There being no further discussion, Bill No. 23, Ordinance No. 23 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Final Passage of Bill No. 24 (DEFEATED), Session 2007, A Bill amending Article 121.03 “Department Heads” of the Codified Ordinances to establish that the Mayor shall not serve longer than 120 days as a temporary department head during a vacancy unless approved by a majority of Council, which was introduced by Texter at the June 5th meeting of Council, and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 24 came up for discussion.
President Texter explained that this legislation stems back to the 1998 Charlie Robertson Administration when the Mayor served as temporary Business Administrator for an extended period of time. During that period, he said, a lot of financial errors took place at which time the Council seated tried to enact similar legislation but the legislation was vetoed by the Mayor at the recommendation of the Solicitor (Tom McCullough, Esq.). (See Bill No. 4, Ordinance No. 3 of Session 1998.) President Texter said he feels this legislation better defines “temporary” and cited portions of the 3rd Class City Code and the York City Administrative Code, which permits the Council the broadest power of local self-government. Additionally, the Administrative Code (115.06a) regulates that “All officers of the City shall enforce obedience to such laws of the Commonwealth, ordinances of the city, and orders of the Mayor or Council.”
Councilman Smallwood said he read the opinion of the Solicitor and asked for clarification on why a veto was recommended in 1998. Solicitor Hoyt said the opinion of the former Solicitor was that the ordinance exceeded the authority of City Council and that Section 411 of the 3rd Class City Optional Charter Law expressly states, “The executive power of the City shall be exercised by the Mayor.” Therefore, the Solicitor at that time recommended the Mayor veto the ordinance. Attorney Hoyt said he agrees that Council does not have the power to enact this legislation.
Councilman Smallwood said he is not an attorney so he has not choice but to favor the Solicitor’s recommendation.
Vice President Musso said he has been saying every budget year that Council needs its own Solicitor for this very reason. There is an underlying conflict of interest especially when a situation arises where Council and the Mayor aren’t in agreement with legislation and the Solicitor, who is appointed by the Mayor, is asked for an opinion. However, not being an attorney himself, Vice President Musso said he has to agree with Councilman Smallwood that he has no choice but to allow the opinion of the Solicitor.
Councilwoman Washington suggested placing Bill No. 24 in committee because she feels this legislation makes sense but we cannot afford a challenge. She said Council needs to be certain it has the power to enact this type of legislation.
Assistant Solicitor Hoyt again referred to his opinion (which is attached to Bill No. 24 located in the City Clerk’s Office) and said this Bill is in contravention of the 3rd Class City Code. President Texter challenged Attorney Hoyt’s opinion, which lead to a heated debate on the interpretation of the 1962 City Charter, 3rd Class City Code, and Optional Charter Law with regard to Council’s authority in exercising the broadest form of local self-government.
President Texter vehemently disagreed with Solicitor Hoyt’s opinion and said his opinion goes against the enter purpose of the 3rd Class City Code, Optional Charter Law, and 1962 City Charter. President Texter said the way Article 121.03(b) of the City’s Administrative Code is currently written, the Mayor has the discretion to serve as a temporary department head for an indefinite amount of time. The word “temporary” needs to be defined, he said.
Commissioner Whitman asked, what if, for instance, the Mayor serves as temporary police chief for more than 120 and Council tells the Mayor he must appoint immediately and the Mayor refuses. How will this legislation force the Mayor to act and what are the repercussions if he doesn’t.
President Texter explained that Council would discuss the Mayor’s actions in a public forum at which time Council would give the Mayor an opportunity to explain the reason why he feels an extension to the 120 days is necessary for him to serve as temporary department head. If a legitimate reason is given, he said, then the Council could extend the 120-day period or discuss other actions.
Councilwoman Smith said 120 days is a long time for any Mayor to serve as temporary department head. Unfortunately, she said, at that time we had a Mayor that was indicted for murder and no one wanted to apply for any positions in the Mayor’s Administration. Councilman Smallwood interjected that Mayor Robertson’s indictment had nothing to do with the department head legislation. He said the problem was that the person serving as Interim Business Administrator at that time did not live in the City so the Mayor served indefinitely to allow that persons to continue serving without the need to appointment them because department heads are required to live in the city.
A discussion ensued on what actions the Council should take with regard to Bill No. 24 (approve, deny, table or put into committee). President Texter said Council is the legislative body of the City of York and it is our duty and power to establish laws as granted under the authority of the 3rd Class City Code, Optional Charter Law, and Codified Ordinances.
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 24 was defeated by the following vote: Yeas – Texter - 1; Nays – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood – 4.
Bill No. 25, Session 2007, (click on Bill No. 25 to view) A Bill establishing Article 1729 “Vacant Property Registration” of the Codified Ordinances to establish guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the City of York and payment of related fees, was pulled from the agenda as the Bill remains in committee for further discussion. (Community Development Committee).
Introduction of Bill No. 26, Session 2007, A Bill repealing in its entirety Article 137.11 “Unclaimed Moneys Fund” of the Codified Ordinances, was introduced by Smallwood, read by short title, and deferred until the August 8th meeting of Council.
Introduction of Bill No. 27, Session 2007, A Bill establishing Article 153 “Historic Monument Preservation Fund” of the Codified Ordinances, was introduced by Smallwood, read by short title, and deferred until the August 8th meeting of Council.
Assistant Solicitor Hoyt explained that the Treasurer is recommending Bill No.’s 26 & 27 for amendment. He said this is a nice clean-up measure to remove a fund (Unclaimed Moneys Fund) we no longer have authority to put money in and establish a new fund (Historic Monument Preservation Fund) to put those dollars.
Councilman Smallwood said he would like to invite Treasurer Murphy to the August 8 Council meeting to discuss his recommendations.
Vice President Musso said he would like to hear from Treasurer Murphy why historic monuments is being earmarked for these funds (~$40,000) and could these funds be used for any other purpose besides historic monuments.
Introduction of Bill No. 28, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Bureau of Housing Services for the CDBG and HOME programs to reflect changes resulting from unallocated funds allowing for a change to the 2007 Action Plan, was introduced by Musso, read by short title, and deferred until the August 8th meeting of Council.
Resolution No. 95, Session 2007, A Resolution appointing Monica R. Kruger as a member of the York City Board of Health to fill the unexpired term of Dr. David Chalker, which term shall expire the first Monday of April 2012, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 95 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 96, Session 2007, A Resolution appointing the following individuals to serve as alternate members of the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals: (1) Deborah Goodling to serve in said capacity until April 1, 2008; and (2) Nancy J. Fox to serve in said capacity until April 1, 2009, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 96 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 97, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the nomination made by the Mayor in appointing the following as Probationary Police Officers effective June 26, 2007: Jonathan Hatterer, Brian Kirby, and Jeremy Fultz, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 97 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 98, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing a lease agreement with York Mitsubishi, 1170 Loucks Rd., York, PA, for the lease of ten (10) front wheel drive sedans for use in the Police Department, at a cost of $269.68 per vehicle, per month, for 36 months, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 98 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 99, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing the purchase of two (2) 2008 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors for use by the Police Department through the Commonwealth of PA State Contract #46000010784 at a cost of $21,303.00 each, for a total price of $42,606, which said purchase shall be made from Winner Ford of Cherry Hill, NJ, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 99 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 100, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing the filing of a proposal for funds with the United States Department of Justice for an Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) n the amount of $36,339.00, for new technical improvements and equipment, overtime for proactive officer details, and records personnel overtime, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 100 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 101, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing an agreement with the PA Dept. of Health to continue its contractual relationship with the City of York to provide a childhood lead poisoning prevention and control program for the period of July 1, 2007 through June 20, 2010 for a total cost of $551,243.80, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 101 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 102, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing an agreement with York College of PA to provide nursing student clinical experience in community health for one year, which shall automatically renew for additional one year terms if the agreement is not terminated, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 102 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 103, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing certificates of appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications filed by Deborah Baker of American Tower Corp. for work to be done at 90 N. Newberry St., Seth Noll of Kinsley Construction for work to be done at 14-20 W. Market St., Jesus Arce for work to be done at 152 S. Pine St., Betty Hoffmaster for work to be done at 124 N. Duke St., Dan Kessler of CR Realty for work to be done at 51 S. Queen St., and Randy Poe, Consultant for the Housing Alliance of York, for work to be done at 55 S. Pine St., was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 103 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Requests for Future Meetings:
Fire Committee, Councilwoman Toni Smith, Chair: Resolution No. 21, (click on Resolution No. 21 to view) a Resolution amending licensing and inspection fees associated with day care facilities as established in Article 1761 of the Codified Ordinances remains in committee.
Public Works Committee, Councilwoman Vickie Washington, Chair: Public Works Committee meeting to be scheduled to discuss Bill No. 13 (click on Bill No. 13 to view) repealing Article 193 “Advisory Council on Recreation and Parks” of the Codified Ordinances.
Economic Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: Bill No. 25, (click on Bill No. 25 to view) a Bill establishing Article 1729 "Vacant Property Registration" of the Codified Ordinances to establish guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the City of York and the payment of related fees. Vice President Musso asked that Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt provide Council with a written opinion on the legality of the ordinance and implications, if any, by the August 8th Council meeting. Bill No. 25 remains in committee until further notice.
Community Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss a report completed by Municipal Resources regarding recommendations and review of the city’s current permit, inspection, and plan review processes.
Councilwoman Washington thanked Representative Eugene DePasquale and his staff for assisting her in getting medication for her gravely ill daughter.
Vice President Musso read a press release that on 7-13-07 at 11:30 am the York City Police Dept. arrested Teon Real at his residence (757 W. King St). Real was charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of robbery for the June 15th assault of Ed Hollinger that occurred in the 600 blk. of W. Princess St. Vice President Musso paid condolences to the Hollinger family for this attack. Next, Vice President Musso sent a get well soon message to Bill Kucker, President of the Southwest Neighborhood Association, who has fallen ill. Lastly, Vice President Musso said that in reviewing the contracts log from the Controller’s Office, he has questions about the contract made with Creative Outdoor Advertising for advertising placed on trash and recycle bins situated throughout the city. He said he would like to hear more from the Administration about this contracts.
President Texter asked for Council’s approval to send a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection as requested by Lower Susquehanna Riverkeepers to basically oppose the portion of the renewal permit for American Ash Recycling (AAR) to run incinerator ash in and out of the city, and possibly stockpile it at York Building Product's Roosevelt Quarry site. The Riverkeepers asked that Council’s letter include: (1) a statement to the effect that the City does not believe the processing and handling of this ash is good for our residents, and (2) a request for a public meeting regarding the renewal of AAR's Beneficial Use Permit. Therefore a motion was made by Texter, seconded by Smith, to approve the writing of said letter. The motion passed unanimously. President Texter said he would draft a letter to this effect.
Councilwoman Smith thanked everyone who sent cards, flowers, and made calls of concern to her stemming from the July 4th attack on her and Councilman Texter while investigating a call from a constituent about fireworks mishandling in the 500 block of S. Queen St. She said a lot of good people live in the 500 block of S. Queen St. and she was sorry they had to endure the mayhem that took place on the 4th of July. Councilwoman Smith stated that she still feels privileged to live in the City of York and she thanked Commissioner Whitman and Captain Dave Arnold for meeting with her and President Texter to discuss what happened. Councilwoman Smith then sent well wishes to Bill Kucker and his family during Mr. Kucker’s illness and sent condolences to former Mayoral candidate Gary Turner for the recent passing of his wife.
Councilman Smallwood announced that the York County Veterans Association along with local veterans are raising funds to create a Vietnam Veterans memorial. He said contributions are welcome and to contact the Veterans Association for more information. Councilman Smallwood did say he would like the Mayor to meet with members of the Veterans Association in considering locating this monument in downtown York.
The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA. (Note: Council will meet on Wednesday, August 8 instead of Tuesday, August 7 to allow Council to participate in the August 7th 24th Annual National Night Out initiative.
Adjournment: There being no further discussion, the July 17, 2007 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:20 p.m.